Litton back, Mahmudullah left out of Bangladesh’s T20 World Cup squad

Bangladesh have dropped Mahmudullah in one of five changes to their squad from the Asia Cup to the T20 World Cup that starts next month. One of those changes is forced following Mushfiqur Rahim’s recent T20I retirement. Nazmul Hossain, the BCB president, called it “a team for the future”, saying that the plan is to build towards the 2024 T20 World Cup.

Mahmudullah’s omission, however, was the big news.

Mahmudullah, the fourth-most-capped T20I cricketer in the world, has struggled in the shortest format of late, which made his position vulnerable. His last T20I fifty was in the World Cup last year, and has scored 151 runs in eight T20Is this year, at a strike rate of 110.21. At the Asia Cup, he aggregated 52 runs at a strike rate of 106.12 in two innings.

Minhajul Abedin, the selection chief, explained that the reason for Mahmudullah’s axing was that he didn’t fit into the plan given by technical consultant – and head coach of the T20I team – Sridharan Sriram.

“Our T20 consultant [Sriram] has given us a one-year plan, which will take us in a different direction, and we have agreed with him,” Abedin said. “We haven’t been doing well in T20Is. We have also had to deal with plenty of injuries in the last six months. The decision to drop Mahmudullah was taken after speaking to everyone concerned.”

Sriram said that he had broken the news to Mahmudullah, and has been working on a succession plan.

“It is never an easy conversation – he is the most-capped T20 player in Bangladesh,” Sriram said. “:I have utmost respect for him. I have to be the bad man to have the conversation. I think it [the conversation] went well.

“I think our cricket team needs to have a succession plan. I have always equated Mahmudullah with MS Dhoni with the role that he performs for the team. He batted at No. 6 just like Dhoni has done for India. He has finished off games. Dhoni cannot go on forever and ever, right?

“You need to have a succession plan for who [next]. I think this was the right time to think of someone who can fill in Mahmudullah’s big shoes. You need someone. Unless we start playing players in that role, we won’t find them.”

Mahmudullah was the Bangladesh T20I captain from November 2019 to July this year, when he was removed from the position. The understanding was that the BCB wanted Shakib Al Hasan back in the position, but there was a delay on that front as Shakib skipped the tour of Zimbabwe, and Nurul was elevated. Two matches into the T20I series, Nurul picked up an injury, and Mosaddek Hossain led the team in the third T20I against Zimbabwe. Shakib has since taken charge.

Litton and Co. return from injuries
Litton, Yasir, Nurul and Mahmud are all back in the mix, as is Shanto, a bit of a surprise pick. He has had very little impact with the bat in his 13 ODIs [189 runs at a strike rate of 61.16] and nine T20Is [148 runs at a strike rate of 104.22]. He was even dropped for the Asia Cup after making just 72 runs in the three T20Is in Zimbabwe.

“He is a very good player. He has the temperament for international cricket,” Sriram said. “From whatever little I have seen him bat or spoken to him, he has the temperament for international cricket. He has the game for the bouncy wickets. He has the tools with him for the impact we are looking for.”

Litton’s return is crucial for the team, since Bangladesh look to him for big starts at the top. Yasir and Nurul would be expected to be the attackers in the middle-order. And Mahmud’s return should boost the fast-bowling attack, which also has Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Saifuddin, Taskin Ahmed and Ebadot Hossain.

Among those dropped, Mahedi might be the only one to feel a little aggrieved.

“We have to select 15 players. I love Mahedi. He is a phenomenal character in the team,” Sriram said. “He brings the energy. We won’t be playing in spin-friendly conditions, however. We had to carry that one extra seam-bowling option.

“It was very close between Mahedi and Nasum [Ahmed]. We picked Nasum as he has a great match-up with the top three of India and Pakistan. The left-arm spinner was ahead; we had other offspinners.

“It was very unfortunate for Mahedi to miss out. He will be in every team that plays in Asia.”

Mahedi, however, has been named in the list of four reserve players. The others are Shoriful Islam, Rishad Hossain and Soumya Sarkar.

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